The West Vancouver Highlanders will return to the Provincial Championship after a seven year hiatus with their victory over the Handsworth Royals in the AAAA Howe Sound Championship game earlier tonight. The West Van victory marks the third year in a row where the Howe Sound regular Season Champions have not been able to make it to the Provincial Championships.
West Van seemed to be able to score at will in the first quarter and got off to an impressive start leading 23-9 at the end of the first quarter. Handsworth seemed tense early in the game and had trouble converting from close proximity to the hoop.
The Highlanders poured it on in the second quarter and stretched their lead to 19 midway through the second quarter and it looked like the game might get out of hand early, but Handsworth fought back and closed the gap to 11 at the halftime break.
West Van played as a unit, it did not matter which five players were on the floor, the ball moved, they played great team defence smothering Handsworth at every opportunity. They were selfless and they were very effective.
Tournament MVP Luke Ryan took over the game in the second half scoring 25 of his 26 points. Ryan was able to score at the hoop, he scored from the perimeter, he scored from the could line and pretty well anywhere he wanted to as the Highlanders never allowed the Royals to close the gap top less than 9 in the second half. Ryan was also awarded the "NO REGRETS" player of the final game by the Quinn Keast Foundation.
Matt Fedak had 13 points to complement Ryans 26, and was selected to the tournament All-Star team along with teammate Phillip Jessic. Jessic had another very strong night for the Highlanders doing all the little things that coaches love. He rebounded well and went to all the dirty areas of the court picking up a nasty cut along the way, but that is the price one pays for a Howe Sound Championship.
Ken Krohman who has been coaching West Van for the last four years was elated after the game, "I couldn't be prouder of our boys, the week was a huge challenge playing against great teams night after night. We played with grit and we played for each other. I think the guys will remember this week for a long, long time."
For the second consecutive night, the high scoring Royals seemed to have trouble adjusting to the physical nature of the Howe Sound Tournament. League leading scorer Adam Karmali had 24 points in the final and was selected to the Tournament All-Star team along with team mate Finn Killam. Austin Penrose of the Sentinel Spartans rounded out the all-star team.
West Vancouver will play in the Telus AAAA Provincial Championships in March at the Langley Events Centre.
(PHOTO GALLERY FROM CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WILL BE AVAILABLE THIS WEEKEND)